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 complete RSI recovery based on Sarno and "SRT"
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delightenment

USA
7 Posts

Posted - 06/16/2008 :  11:13:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I can't thank this site enough for setting me on the road to total recovery from an awful RSI situation. About a year ago the pain in my wrists stopped going away when I wasn't typing - I had had occasional bouts of hurting for years previous, but wrote it off. Last May it got so bad that I was typing with a pencil, buying dictation software and obsessing about the perfect posture situation.

My job was a conference planner in a stressful non-profit situation, and the conference was in August. In September I was going to start law school and spent all of last spring and summer stressed out about being prepared for that. On top of that, I was temporarily living with my parents, not involved in romance, not exercising or eating well, and generally anxious about things. But as much as I could say to myself, "my stress is a factor in making my hands hurt," I had no idea how I could deal with that stress in a productive way.

In the fall (ie September 2007) I started to look for paths to recovery: the conference was over, life had settled down, and I thought that with a little bit of better posture and maybe some massage I could take care of the pain in a few weeks. Wrong. The pain continued no matter what I did. The traditional doctor said only, "ice it"; the hand specialist was useless; the rheumatologist told me I had loose ligaments (and charged a ridiculous amount to confirm that I didn't have lupus!). Ok, less traditional: acupuncture felt nice but didn't help, chiropractor didn't help, full-body massage, physical therapy, meditation, all in vain. At one point I actually read a Sarno book and found it temporarily helpful - but it was lost in a sea of other sources.

I searched for the perfect massage therapist and went through three before finding the best, the most knowledgeable, and the most expensive in the area. He talked about torn muscles and ligaments and urged exercise and a high-protein diet - not bad advice in and of itself, but the experience with him didn't seem to make a difference.

I explored the mind-body connection. For hours I did guided relaxation in my bed, exploring the tension in my arms with my mind, opening up my chakras. It was wonderful in its own way, but the pain didn't go away. Natural remedies: arnica pills, turmeric, flower essences, with no demonstrable effect. Craniosacral therapy was also wonderful but not effective. A Mexican folk healer trained in kundalini yoga who spoke in Spanish about her Indian guru. I found a powerfully intuitive reiki healer who poured energy into my body until my legs started spontaneously shaking--itself a mind-blowing experience, but not one that actually dealt with the RSI issue. The reiki healer, and so many others, talked about the mind-body connection as though there were a one-to-one correspondence between parts of my body and specific feelings: "there is a lot of anger in your shoulders," "the pain in your hands has to do with frustration about not doing 'work,' since work is essentially manual," etc. It's an extremely seductive idea, and a very common one. But ultimately it was a step in entirely the wrong direction.

Help finally came from two sources in the same week. I was on vacation in late December 2007, resolved to deal with this pain that had consumed an entire semester and threatened to control my life forever. I was poking around the internet for help when I stumbled upon the RSI support page at Harvard University, where the students had posted a short paper about John Sarno. It made a lot of sense, and I spent the next 24 hours poking around the internet for more related links: this forum, where many stories and tips were extremely helpful, the related work of Dr Brady, and many blogs and sites. The lesson, again and again, was: pay attention to your own emotions. Stop treating this as a structural issue. The pain is trying to trick you and your job is just to notice how you're feeling. I kept an emotional diary and learned a whole new language of feeling: now I'm anxious, now I'm feeling fear, etc. Little realizations kept dawning. And I think my hands felt better: but the really good news was just around the corner. Before I get to it, I'm going to post this and post the links that I found most helpful. To be continued...

http://www.rsi.deas.harvard.edu/mb_what_is.html
http://podolsky.everybody.org/rsi/
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/478840
http://www.tmshelp.com/forum/default.asp
http://www.bradyinstitute.com/

stories:
http://www.tmshelp.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2366
http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~thibaux/rsi_is_tms.htm
http://www.tarpityoga.com/olive.html

skizzik

USA
776 Posts

Posted - 06/23/2008 :  05:46:07  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
eager for part 2! r u leaving us hangin?
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Bacchus

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 06/27/2008 :  04:59:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We're dying to hear the rest of your story Delightenment!
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delightenment

USA
7 Posts

Posted - 06/29/2008 :  14:42:28  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sorry everybody! I've been meaning to finish the story for a few weeks and life has been getting in the way. Apologies to anyone who's been waiting for it, especially those who took the time to message me!

So...as I was saying. Having tried everything I could think of, I connected with the Sarno book and found it really insightful. I started journaling a lot, printed out a Sarno worksheet I found on the web, and discovered new facets of my emotional life. And I thought I could feel some progress with my hands but it would come and go.

Now comes the second source of healing. The previous week, a friend suggested that the Alexander technique could be helpful in teaching me to move without pain, so I had made an Alexander Technique appointment that happened to take place just a few days after the Sarno discovery. I had seen that this practitioner also did something called Self-Regulation Therapy (SRT), but the plan was just to have an Alexander session. Within a few minutes, though, it was clear to her that SRT would be helpful to me, so we ended up doing that practice instead.

It turns out that SRT is a new therapy technique that, as far as I can tell, is deeply related to Sarno's insights about emotions, the nervous system and pain. It was designed to help people process trauma: the idea is that when you undergo trauma and don't process it, it builds up excess "activation" in your nervous system that leads to pain or other physical symptoms. There is no discussion as far as I can see of specific physical symptoms - eg no discussion of the particular sites of back pain that Sarno works on, or of RSI - but the concept seems to be roughly the same. And the big point is that practitioners who do SRT have a coherent method of actually working with the nervous system to get out that activation. It's like keeping a journal a la Sarno: only it's another person actually leading me through it, rather than having to rely on myself.

A typical session involves a lot of body awareness: I begin to talk, and my SRT practitioner will stop me and say, "as you are saying that, what are you noticing about how you're sitting? about your breath? about your posture?" After a little while this leads me into a relaxed mode where breathing changes somewhat. Then I keep talking--about my day, about something making me anxious, or something else-- and keep noticing what happens to my body. It leads to a new awareness of my emotions; of how I tense up or move when I talk about something unpleasant, about how my breath changes, about how different modes of anxiety and calm pass through my body. There's an element of psychotherapy, since I talk about myself and explore things that are bothering me: but it always comes back to the physical experience I'm having, the sensations and emotions that I'm feeling. And I process those emotions more and more each time.

And the big point is, that it took exactly _one hour_ of this for all my RSI symptoms to go away. I literally had one session with her in which I connected with some newly deep place inside myself, and my hands stopped hurting. Even better: the following week I had a lot of exams, and in the stressed-out period my hands started hurting again the same as before. It was two weeks before I went back for an SRT session: at which time, 10 minutes after that session, the pain went away completely again. There were some occasional pangs for a few more weeks - but I continued going to her, and the pangs eventually went away for good. I continue to go to her every week, finding that even though it's no longer about "fixing my symptoms" I still get as much, or more, as I would from psychotherapy. And still learning an awful lot about my life and my emotions!

In the end, I can't tell you exactly how it is that SRT helped. The work just reached down and opened up something new in my stomach and chest, allowed me to let go of something: and then all of a sudden, it was like tiny muscles in my arms suddenly let go and stopped hurting. We didn't do anything particularly to focus on my arms - unlike, as I was saying in the last post, a lot of reiki and other techniques that try to draw a connection between particular areas of pain and particular emotions. The same way that Sarno says, don't focus on the area of pain and just pay attention to your overall emotional life, SRT is about your overall emotional life and its relationship to your body in general rather than the painful parts.

The more I say about SRT, the less coherent I think I sound - it's such a funny mix of mind work and body work that it's hard to explain. And I don't know anything about the validity of my recommendation, since it may be that I was in the "right place" for the technique and it won't be useful for everyone. I just have no idea. But based on my experience, I would strongly recommend trying a session or two of SRT for anyone who appreciates Sarno's insights but hasn't found the symptoms to have gone away 100%. Doing the same or similar work with a trained person could make all the difference. Eager to hear, of course, whether anyone on this site has any experience with it.

Now the most important part: links. The main site for the development of is: http://www.cftre.com/ . This seems like another good site describing SRT, by a practitioner of it: http://www.atherton-reid.com/srt.html . My practitioner is based in Boston and is at http://www.sonorarose.net . I believe she does sessions by phone if you're not in the area: which might be strange, but then again, might be wonderful. (I've never done one by phone.) I don't want to be prosyletizing too much, and I hope no one will be upset if it doesn't work for them. I've never heard of anyone but me dealing with RSI/TMS using SRT. But the results in my case have been so miraculous, and insight-conferring and liberating and healing, that I have to share the hunch that SRT is really addressing some of the same phenomena as Sarno.

Anyway, I wish you a tremendous amount of strength and love on your journey. I am so grateful for this community and what I gained from it, and I hope my story can be at least a little bit useful to others. Please don't hesitate to write to me if you have any questions or thoughts.
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delightenment

USA
7 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2012 :  07:15:07  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was on this site for a different purpose, but it's been a while so I thought I'd update it with some other links that I believe are related to TMS in underexplored ways.... Most of these may already be obvious to readers of this site but I figured it couldn't hurt to list them all. [I first posted this yesterday but had screwed up the links.]

http://www.cftre.com/courses-seminars/trauma-and-the-triune-brain-seminar/#ttbv

http://www.amazon.com/Polyvagal-Theory-Neurophysiological-Communication-Self-regulation/dp/0393707008/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329401375&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Reversing-Chronic-Pain-10-Point-All-Natural/dp/1556436769/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1329328875&sr=8-2-fkmr2

http://www.amazon.com/Acceptance-Commitment-Therapy-Chronic-Pain/dp/1878978527/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329328912&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Unspoken-Voice-Releases-Restores-Goodness/dp/1556439431/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329401375&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Emotional-Alchemy-Mind-Heal-Heart/dp/0609809032/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329401432&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Full-Catastrophe-Living-Wisdom-Illness/dp/0385303122/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329401456&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Body-Remembers-Psychophysiology-Trauma-Treatment/dp/0393703274/ref=pd_sim_b_11

http://www.amazon.com/Trauma-Body-Sensorimotor-Approach-Psychotherapy/dp/0393704572/ref=pd_sim_b_13

http://www.amazon.com/Body-Bears-Burden-Dissociation-Disease/dp/0789033356/ref=pd_sim_b_70

Help is out there, though rarely is it all in one place!!!
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